Have you counted the cost of loving the Lord Your God and loving your neighbour thereafter? The cost of discipleship that demands we love God and others more than we love ourselves. The cost of loving without benefits only than to love. To carry our cross to follow after Jesus is to love as He does to the very end. So let us reflect on this a little more…

Do I truly love my spouse such that I would never look at anyone else lustfully let alone entertain the thought of adultery? Do I love my children with an endearing love that I should punish them when they do wrong with my Lord in mind and without starving them of my love? Do I love my aged parents tenderly even though I might struggle with the demands of my own life and family? Do I love my sisters and brothers in Christ inspite of their many faults and shortcomings, striving to be patient with them as my Lord was patient with me? Do I love the stranger that comes before me hoping only to see the face of Christ? Do I love such that my eyes are opened to see those who are poor, sick and in need, and do what I must to help them? Our only debt indeed as St Paul says, is the debt of mutual love. If we remember nothing else today, let us remember this… Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments. (Rm 13:10)

Lord Jesus I embrace my cross for love of You. Lead me to where You want me to go. Amen

First reading

Romans 13:8-10 ·
Your only debt should be the debt of mutual love

Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.

Gospel

Luke 14:25-33
Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’


There are many out there who are very set in their ways and refuse to embrace any sort of change. They are very settled in their comfort zones and will not budge from them. Some of them serve in ministry or a church community and are quite willing to do what they can to help out in the work but still think their relationship with the Lord our God is entirely between them and Him directly. And so they will never fully understand or grasp what it means to be One Body in Christ. What it truly means to come together to pray, adore and worship as One. The liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist are viewed as separate and a process we simply have to go through from one point to another. How can they ever hope to see that Heaven and Earth unites in this one Heavenly Banquet?

Unless we begin to recognise that all of us are different and though individually gifted we are still One Body in Christ we will not grow in our faith neither in our love for one another. We need to have a profund respect for each other as St Paul reminds us. That also means we must be humble to accept that others are stronger in certain gifts and talents just as we are stronger in our own. And just as we are weak in certain areas so are they likewise weak in others. But together we complement one another by our strengths as well as our weaknesses. And it is only through Christ that we are perfected in all that we say and do. We must never compare, complain or question (EPH 2:14) but strive for unity in Him. Therefore as it is important to work for the Lord with untiring effort and earnestness in Spirit. We must also make every effort to Pray for and Pray with one another just as often as we meet to work for Him. With this in our heart and minds we are then truly in communion with Him our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who unites us with His Body and His Blood in the Holy Eucharist. Amen

First reading

Romans 12:5-16 ·
Use the gifts you have been given

All of us, in union with Christ, form one body, and as parts of it we belong to each other. Our gifts differ according to the grace given us. If your gift is prophecy, then use it as your faith suggests; if administration, then use it for administration; if teaching, then use it for teaching. Let the preachers deliver sermons, the almsgivers give freely, the officials be diligent, and those who do works of mercy do them cheerfully.
Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.
Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor. Do not allow yourself to become self-satisfied.

Gospel

Luke 14:15-24
‘Not one of those who were invited shall have a taste of my banquet’

One of those gathered round the table said to Jesus, ‘Happy the man who will be at the feast in the kingdom of God!’ But he said to him, ‘There was a man who gave a great banquet, and he invited a large number of people. When the time for the banquet came, he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, “Come along: everything is ready now.” But all alike started to make excuses. The first said, “I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it. Please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies.” Yet another said, “I have just got married and so am unable to come.”
‘The servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the householder, in a rage, said to his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” “Sir” said the servant “your orders have been carried out and there is still room.” Then the master said to his servant, “Go to the open roads and the hedgerows and force people to come in to make sure my house is full; because, I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall have a taste of my banquet.”’

Why

Posted: November 4, 2019 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys


How do we give thanks and praise to an awesome God who loves us unconditionally? Who lavishes us with His graces and gifts freely and without merit. Who is ever patient and merciful to those who turn back from sin against brethren and Him. Who frees us from the trappings of our very own Sins that keep us is darkness so that we are free to live in His light!

Well we can start to strive to be more and more like Him each day. To extend mercy and love to everyone especially those who offend us. Whether or not we feel they do not merit our forgiveness, we forgive anyway! We give freely of our time, our talents and what we can afford especially to those who cannot repay us. For if we follow after the heart of God we will seek out and tend to poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. The more we offer up in His name the more we shall receive.

And so we will never want for anything, for the Lord is our Shepherd who carries His sheep close to His bosom. Amen

First reading

Romans 11:29-36 ·
God never takes back his gifts

God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.
Just as you changed from being disobedient to God, and now enjoy mercy because of their disobedience, so those who are disobedient now – and only because of the mercy shown to you – will also enjoy mercy eventually. God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.
How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge – and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods! Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything?
All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.

Gospel

Luke 14:12-14
Do not invite those who might be able to invite you back

Jesus said to his host, one of the leading Pharisees, ‘When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.’


It is always a struggle for our parishes to encourage and start neighbourhood groups and small Christian communities. There is always the question of time, knowledge on how to do it and the resources to get one running. If only everyone got to experience just how wonderful an experience it is to journey together with and in the Lord, all the anxiety and challenges that one might perceive to face will be moot!

There is also a sad reality that there are some who had at one time belonged to a community of believers but have allowed the cares of the world to overshadow them. They give excuse after excuse till they decide that no excuse is necessary any longer for leaving behind their community behind. It is just the way it is, their priorities have changed. They will never admit that their lives become empty and shallow. They think they can grow in faith, love and spirituality on their own. The truth is that unless they practise a sort of monastic asceticism focused on Christ their growth is already stunted. We can only pray that they come back to the community who awaits them with open arms.

Here is something I put together to encourage everyone…..

**Importance of Belonging To A Small Christian Community**

Without going into depth, sharing my experience of the importance of being part of a Christian community as we are all called to do as believers in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1. Authentically we live out our faith as one Body In Christ.

2.Accountability, we become accountable to one another in striving for holiness.

3. We learn to be charitable and generous with one another and others outside our community.

4. We become aware of the importance of being present for one another and are willing to sacrifice to be there for one another.

5. Jesus blesses us with His presence in our homes and in the places we gather in His name; His mother our Blessed Mother Mary is always with us as well.

6. The word of God is alive and active in our lives because His Word reigns in our hearts.

7. Our other devotions like the rosary and divine mercy becomes more powerful and alive through His Word which stands above all.

8. We are affirmed and encouraged through the sharing of our testimonies of our Lord’s love in our lives.

9. We are witnesses to the transformations of one another that takes place through Christ our Lord.

10. We bear witness and affirm one another’s gifts of the Holy Spirit which we use collectively to build our Lord’s kingdom.

11. We bask in the love of our Lord through our fraternal bonds that grow stronger through our faith and love with and in Him.

12. With growth of His love within our community we become more inclusive, warm and inviting to others seeking our Lord.

13. Many within the community will be challenged to be more and do more. Always relying on His strength, grace and love.

14. We are witnesses to the effects of our own transformed lives which has a great positive impact on our families, friends and parish communities.

15. We grow in our zeal to share His love with all that we meet. We become bolder and more courageous in our endeavour.

16. We start living in the Spirit according to the Will of God.

17. We experience the peace and joy of Christ constantly in our lives.

18. As our community matures in faith we adore and praise God more and more as One Body In Him, as we come together to intercede more often for others.

19. We are there for one another in our joys as well as our sorrows. The experience of having your brothers and sisters in Christ with you in the these moments are out of this world and to be cherished.

20. As the community grows and matures further we are driven to Mission through Christ our Lord. Amen

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: November 2, 2019 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Lover of Souls: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Wisdom 11:22–12:2
Psalm 145:1–2, 8–11, 13–14
2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2
Luke 19:1–10

Our Lord is a lover of souls, the Liturgy shows us today. As we sing in today’s Psalm, He is slow to anger and compassionate toward all that He has made.

In His mercy, our First Reading tells us, He overlooks our sins and ignorance, giving us space that we might repent and not perish in our sinfulness (see Wisdom 12:10; 2 Peter 3:9).

In Jesus, He has become the Savior of His children, coming Himself to save the lost (see Isaiah 63:8–9; Ezekiel 34:16).

In the figure of Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel, we have a portrait of a lost soul. He is a tax collector, by profession a “sinner” excluded from Israel’s religious life. Not only that, he is a “chief tax collector.” Worse still, he is a rich man who has apparently gained his living by fraud.

But Zacchaeus’ faith brings salvation to his house. He expresses his faith in his fervent desire to “see” Jesus, even humbling himself to climb a tree just to watch Him pass by. While those of loftier religious stature react to Jesus with grumbling, Zacchaeus receives Him with joy.

Zacchaeus is not like the other rich men Jesus meets or tells stories about (see Luke 12:16–21; 16:19–31; 18:18–25). He repents, vowing to pay restitution to those he has cheated and to give half of his money to the poor.

By his humility he is exalted, made worthy to welcome the Lord into his house. By his faith he is justified, made a descendant of Abraham (see Romans 4:16–17).

As He did last week, Jesus is again using a tax collector to show us the faith and humility we need to obtain salvation.

We are also called to seek Jesus daily with repentant hearts. And we should make our own Paul’s prayer in today’s Epistle: that God might make us worthy of His calling, that by our lives we might give glory to the name of Jesus

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: November 2, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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All us who love the Lord our God and know how much He truly loves us will strive for holiness, to be holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy. And through Christ we have hope of perfection to be one with the Saints in Heaven.

But what if we missed the mark? What if we were not as obedient or loving as we were called to be? In His great compassion, mercy and love God our Father sent His son to save us from the clutches of death through Sin. He will not abandon us and as St Paul reminds us today Hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We know that for a time we will be purged of all impurities, the fire of God’s love for us will test us like gold in a furnace. We will washed in the blood of the Lamb and will be white as snow.

Jesus is the source of all life, all who believe in Him will rise to new life with Him. Emmanuel! Now and for all eternity! Amen

First reading
Wisdom 3:1-9 ·
The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God

The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them.
In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us, like annihilation;
but they are in peace.
If they experienced punishment as men see it,
their hope was rich with immortality; slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be.
God has put them to the test
and proved them worthy to be with him; he has tested them like gold in a furnace, and accepted them as a holocaust.
When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out;
as sparks run through the stubble, so will they.
They shall judge nations, rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king for ever.
They who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love; for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.

Second reading
Romans 5:5-11 ·
Now we have been reconciled by the death of his Son, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son

Hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.

Gospel
Luke 7:11-17
The only son of his mother, and she a widow

Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.